Hello! I thought I’d venture tentatively into the blogosphere by talking about the recent BSB reading and signing evening in Nottingham, England. This is less an account of the events of the night and more about the feelings it produced in this new writer…
BSB in the UK (July 29th 2010): A Personal Perspective.
In July 2009, with a hand shaking with excitement, I signed the contract for the publication of Truths with Bold Strokes, still amazed and honoured anyone wanted to publish my unusual novel. A year later, July 2010, and I’m sitting in a bookstore in Nottingham with five other BSB writers and one editor (Jane Fletcher, Lesley Davis, Gill McKnight, Justine Saracen, I. Beacham, and Victoria Oldham) clutching a copy of Truths, waiting to read from it, and then answer questions from an audience of forty enthusiastic readers. My name is on a card in front of me. I’m a writer.
It’s exciting so many people came to see us. It’s wonderful to finally meet some of my BSB family. It’s a real thrill BSB is making headway in the UK and people who’ve never heard of our books are asking excitedly where they can buy them. To be able to tell them “in all good bookshops” feels like a privilege in itself.
But for me—the newbie writer—it’s more exciting still. In many ways it’s a life changing night. I finally realize what I’m part of. A roomful of so many enthusiastic and friendly people, brought together by the power of books. Books they can relate to, about characters they can feel a connection with. How important BSB is for our community—in Europe as well as the USA—strikes me full force.
There is still—in these modern, fast-paced, digital times—such an enthusiasm for books. Our audience listens keenly to every reading, and have more questions ready for us than I expected. From whether the sex we describe in our books is true to our real lives (politely declined to answer that one!) to what our favorite books are (after a long indecisive pause I finally say The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro). That people are interested in me because I write is both wonderful and surreal to me. I know it’s not that I’m so fascinating myself; it’s that books still carry a touch of magic in their pages. I can feel it in the room.
And there are so many aspiring writers there too. Asking questions about publishing, editing, why we write what we do. Dreams are floating and trembling in the air. I suddenly realize what I have achieved. I’ve been allowed to grasp hold of one of those dreams. I’m not sure I have any business giving advice about getting published, but I do my best, leaving most of the words of wisdom to my more experienced BSB colleagues. But the sheer enthusiasm—the passion for writing—in the room seeps into my blood. I was already buzzing when Truths was published. But my excitement reached new levels in that few hours in the bookstore (and, yes, in the pub afterwards!). In nearly all of the photos from that night I have a hugely stupid grin. I couldn’t stop smiling.
I never did come back down to earth. That one night has fired my passion for books and writing for the rest of my life. I am currently working on my next novel, Ghosts of Winter. I’ll admit I didn’t write the first draft very well. In the process of redrafting it there were times I felt disheartened. It wasn’t going as smoothly as Truths did. Editing can be brutal for a sensitive soul. But if I feel a little bruised and battered by it I remember that night in the bookstore. Instead of brutal, the process of editing—making a book the best it can be—becomes rewarding. I want to be a better writer. I want to be the best I can. I want to deserve this.
Books are so very important. They entertain and amuse. But they can also bring people together, inspire, and change lives. It is an honour like nothing I’ve ever known before to be a writer. To be a real part of this well beloved world of words and dreams.
On July 29th 2010 Bold Strokes Books invaded the UK to great success. Hopefully we’ll do it again soon and it will be bigger and better. But July 29th taught me a lesson too. What I learned that night is this: I appreciate every writer who writes—published or not, whether I like their words or not. I am grateful to every reader, to everyone who loves words, whether they read my novels or not. Publishing is an industry with trends and markets. Writing can be hard work at times. But books are—and have always been—something magical.